And why the entire 'debate' is phony...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2014, 4:06pm PT  

We touched on this a bit in yesterday's Green News Report, but this new "I'm not a scientist" tactic now emerging from Republicans, as played most recently by Speaker John Boehner, is noteworthy enough --- and cowardly enough...and purposely deceptive enough --- to look at just a bit closer.

It's a fairly clever new ruse to avoid what folks like Boehner know to be absolutely true, but which, for a number of reasons, they're not allowed to say outloud anymore.

New York's Jonathon Chait helps kick this off...

Asked by reporters yesterday if he accepts the scientific consensus that greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, John Boehner demurred on the curious but increasingly familiar grounds that he is not a scientist. "Listen, I'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change," the House Speaker said. Boehner immediately turned the question to the killing of jobs that would result from any proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which he asserts with unwavering certainty. (On this question, Boehner is not held back by the fact that he is also not an economist.)

This particular demurral seems to be in vogue for the Grand Old Party. Florida governor Rick Scott ("I'm not a scientist") and Senator Marco Rubio ("I'm not a scientist. I'm not qualified to make that decision.") have both held up their lack of scientific training as a reason to withhold judgment on anthropogenic global warming.

It's a strange form of reasoning. Very few of us are scientists, which is exactly why we tend to defer to scientific judgment. It might make sense to question expert consensus in a field where you are an expert, but if you know very little about it, you probably want to just go along with what the experts think. Scientists do, in fact, have a nearly unanimous view of anthropogenic global warming. Scientists likewise believe that chugging Liquid Drano is bad for your health, which is why, precisely because of my lack of scientific training, I hold off on the Drano Cocktails.

Chait goes on to argue that the newest GOP "I"m not a scientist" line of denialism is a swell way to not have to say out loud what people smart enough to know better, like Boehner, know to be the truth when it comes to global warming, while avoiding the wrath of the real "kooks" in their party. "After all, the Glenn Becks, George Wills, and Wall Street Journal editorial page columnists of the world are out there fighting the good denier fight, and they don't want to be undercut by their fellow Republicans," writes Chait.

He then concludes this way:

"I'm not a scientist" allows Republicans to avoid conceding the legitimacy of climate science while also avoiding the political downside of openly branding themselves as haters of science. The beauty of the line is that it implicitly concedes that scientists possess real expertise, while simultaneously allowing you to ignore that expertise altogether.

That's a fairly accurate description of the new and immoral GOP position on the matter.

The important thing to remember here, as we also discussed on GNR yesterday, is that none of this actually has anything to do with doubts about the science of global warming. The only substantive "doubts" about it are how horrible it will be, and how fast, and what to do to help mitigate the worst effects of it on humanity.

The "global warming debate", such as it's described by CNN and others who like to pretend there is one, is only about the action that must be taken to mitigate it now, or whether we should simply wait to take such action until it's far too late to do much about it. Yes, according to the scientists there are tipping points in the not-at-all-distant future, after which it will be far too late to turn back.

The real concern from deniers then (at least those like Boehner and the fossil fuel companies, who know there's no real question about the science --- as opposed to their minions that they've played for stooges), is only about the economic interests of the fossil fuel industry. It's not about "the economy", as you'll also begin hearing more and more --- as Boehner, by way of example, tried to pretend that any proposal to do anything about it "involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs" --- because there are plenty of long and short-term economic gains to be had from moving to a world of clean, renewable energy.

The pretend "debate", in truth, is really only about the handful of folks who profit off of the oil, coal and gas extraction industries, and the personal pain they would like to avoid in cutting into a single cent of the most profitable industry the world has ever known.

It's not about a "hoax" or "bad science". It's not about "lining Al Gore's pocket". It's about a few very very rich men who don't want to lose any of their future riches.

That's it. There's no more to it. It's action to save humanity versus a loss of profits for a handful of very wealthy people. There's no real debate about science or the economy or anything else. It's about the folks who run Big Carbon hoping to remain as absolutely profitable as long as humanly possible, no matter the ultimate cost to our nation, the world, and actual humanity.

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